HUD Publishes Final FFRMS Rule, Expanding Floodplain and Increasing Elevation Requirements

HUD published a final rule in the Federal Register on April 22 expanding what the agency considers a floodplain by establishing a new “Federal Flood Risk Management Standard (FFRMS) Floodplain” and raising mitigation standards for buildings constructed and repaired using agency funds. The rule amends HUD’s current floodplain regulations to comply with Executive Order (E.O.) 13690, “Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input,” and Executive Order (E.O.) 14030, “Climate Related Financial Risk.”

The rule changes regulations in four major areas. First, the rule redefines and expands the existing 100-year Floodplain to the new FFRMS Floodplain, which takes into account future risk of flooding. HUD hopes that in accounting for increased flood risk over time, the agency will protect more residents and conserve more housing resources.

Second, the rule increases the required elevation for new construction across all HUD programs and substantially improved structures, across all grant programs and FHA-insured projects. This part of the rule is intended by HUD to lower flood insurance premiums for those who end up raising their house.

Third, the rule strengthens requirements around when flood risk must be disclosed to potential buyers and tenants and recommends that those in the FFRMs acquire flood insurance. At the same time, the new rule does not require those in the FFRMS area to purchase flood insurance, which can be prohibitively expensive for lower-income households.

Finally, the rule allows for more flexibility in using HUD assistance for specific properties in floodways.

HUD plans to create an FFRMS Guidebook, hold peer-to-peer trainings, and facilitate a two-part webinar in May and June of this year to explain what the changes mean in practice.

Read the final rule containing the HUD provisions here.